In 2013, Forrester Research published two studies showing how the world has left the “Age of Information” and has officially entered the “Age of the Customer”. Consumers have more power to control the marketplace now than ever before.

The most common news and entertainment source in the late 20th century was satellite and digital cable television. However, smartphones, social media, and streaming services have changed the way people consume media altogether. With cable not as necessary, many choose to “cut the cord” and move to stream services for their content consumption. The subscription numbers support this trend as well.

CNS performed a linear regression analysis of the total number of households paying for cable television in the United States. This equation uses data points that are already known to predict unknown variables. In this case, it is used to forecast future trends for cable subscribers.

In 2013, there were over 100 million households paying for cable. It can be forecasted that by 2026 there will be less than 60 million. 

One of the remaining draws of cable is broadcasting live events, including local news and sporting events, though this may not be enough to draw young adult consumers. According to a recent study from Horowitz Research, more than 50% of people aged 18-34 said that they receive their news primarily from the internet. According to a Pew Research survey from February 2022, only 21% of adults use the cable as a source of news on a daily basis, while 36% say they never use cable news. 

Meanwhile, sports leagues are beginning to move primetime games to streaming services; the NFL has announced that Thursday Night Football games will take place on Amazon Prime Video, and MLB has been broadcasting baseball games on Apple TV.

One reason people may be making the switch is cost; streaming services tend to be priced lower than major cable providers.

Streaming also allows viewers more targeted options and does so at a lower cost, eliminating unwanted channels and programming. In contrast to cable, the number of global subscribers for streaming services is only increasing.

Netflix is currently leading the way with over 200 million global subscribers. Relative newcomers, Disney Plus and HBO Max, are steadily gaining new subscribers. Last year, Disney Plus gained 44.8 million subscribers, the most of any streaming service.

Many cable network companies have begun to make the switch to a streaming platform of their own, including Paramount Plus, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS, and Peacock, NBC’s streaming platform. 

This article was originally published on CNSMaryland.org.


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